'Buck: A Memoir'

Book recommendation

buck book coverM.K. Asante’s memoir, Buck, tells the story of a young man who, despite his African-centered upbringing, is drawn to the allure of the streets. Coming of age in North Philadelphia with an incarcerated brother, an often absent professor/activist father and a stressed-out mother, Asante finds more peace out in the world then in his own home.

In this lyrical work, the reader rides shotgun as a young Asante negotiates the fine line between what it means to be a man, when he is not interested in following his father’s model, and being a knucklehead who shuns his first love when forced to choose between her or the streets.

MK AsanteUsing snippets from some of the best hip hop verses of the 90's, Asante tells his tale of alienation in a private predominately white school, to disengagement in an overpopulated mostly African-American public system and then finally finding his way and his voice in a diverse independent, liberal arts school.

In my opinion, Asante’s memoir is a perfect example of how a student’s level of engagement in school directly impacts their behavior outside of it. When he was unhappy with school and home, he sought to escape them by spending more time in the world but as soon as he found a school that fit him and spoke to his needs, the streets lost their appeal.

MK Asante 2This could indeed be considered a clichéd story, in that it tells the tale of a young man who was raised with a solid foundation but lost his way. And after having life knock him down a few times, he dusted himself off and, through education and perseverance, weathered the storm to accomplish great things. But those are the stories that never get old to me.

Today, M.K. Asante is a tenured professor at Morgan State University in Baltimore. He is also the award-winning writer of It’s Bigger Than Hip-Hop: The Rise of the Post Hip-Hop Generation and filmmaker of The Black Candle: A Kwanzaa Story.

If asked, I would recommend this book to young men between the ages of 12-18 but even if you do not fit into that category, there is no need to deny yourself the pleasure of such an insightful read.